Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cycling is Bad for You

The Mail today trumpets "Why cycling to work is one of the biggest causes of heart attacks".

This has to be one of the worst pieces of pseudo-scientific misreporting ever written. It's bad, even by Daily Mail standards. Hang your head in shame, Jenny Hope, go to the back of the class and write out a hundred times, "Myocardial infarction".

The study they are referring to studies the trigger, or 'final straw' that brings on a heart attack, not the cause of it, duh. The underlying cause likely to be lack of excercise and poor diet,  in some cases in combination with genetic factors, which is why cycling combined with a healthy diet massively lowers your risk of a heart attack.  The study identifies triggering factors such as stress, pollution and excercise.The summary of the study here does not even mention cycling. The Mail makes an assumption that because cycling involves excercise, and can expose you to pollution and stress, it is therefore risky. If you spent your life binging on burgers and beer, watching telly and smoking and then took up cycling just before your arteries finally clogged up for good, it could bring on a heart attack, but it's a heart attack you would likely have had anyway sooner or later.

It is worth pointing out that the study identified air pollution as a significant factor, adding to the existing evidence of health effects. I hope Boris is taking notice.

The Guardian has picked up on this story. I wonder if they read this blog?

1 comment:

  1. Jenny Hopeless might have mentioned that cyclists are less exposed to traffic pollution than car drivers - they may breathe more due to exertion but the pollutants are heavier than air so pool at a lower level than a typical cyclist's nosse & mouth